- Number of people per minute who experience intimate partner violence in the U.S.: 24
- Number of workplace violence incidents in the U.S. annually that are the result of current or past intimate partner assaults: 18,700
- Number of women in the U.S. who report intimate partner violence: 1 in 4
- Number of women who are killed daily in the U.S. by their intimate partner: approx. 3
- A history of domestic abuse is a common, disturbing thread connecting the majority of America’s mass shooters. Google: mass shootings and domestic violence for more articles on the subject
For friends and extended family of domestic abusers the possibility that the person they know could be capable of having a dark side seems impossible, so they reject the idea. This amounts to rejecting the abused survivor, accusing them of lying, or implying they are crazy.
When people find two different versions of a person incompatible, they often render the other person’s view point as false.
I want to submit that both sides can be telling the truth about what they witness. There can be two sides to the story because a duplicitous personality is involved.
Let’s start by inserting some names into this picture:
Laci Denise Peterson was an American woman who was the subject of a highly publicized murder case after she disappeared while eight months pregnant with her first child. She was reportedly last seen alive on December 24, 2002. Her husband, Scott Peterson, was later convicted of murder in the first degree for her death, and in the second degree for the death of their prenatal son, Conner. Peterson is on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
Drew Walter Peterson is a retired Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant who was convicted in 2012 for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, a few months after their 2003 divorce. Peterson first received national publicity in 2007 when his fourth wife, Stacy Ann Cales Peterson, disappeared. Although law enforcement and Stacy Ann’s family suspect foul play, she has never been found, and Peterson has not been charged in her case.
There are currently two cases near me which are unsolved:
One involves a missing woman, Amanda Jones, who was last seen with Bryan Westfall, the alleged father of her unborn child. Bryan Westfall phoned Amanda and made arrangements to meet her on a Sunday afternoon. They met, but Amanda never returned home. Her car never left the parking lot where they met. Amanda is presumed dead and has been missing since the summer of 2005.
The second involves a woman I’ve written about many times, Lynn Messer. Lynn disappeared July 8, 2014. We now know that Lynn has been deceased the entire time and I have been told by law enforcement multiple times through the years that Kerry Messer, her husband, has not been cleared in the investigation surrounding Lynn’s death.
Disgraced former Judge Lance Mason accused of fatally stabbing estranged wife in Shaker Heights, sources say.
Yesterday, an Ohio grand jury has indicted this former trial court judge accused of fatally stabbing his ex-wife, Aisha Fraser Mason, on aggravated murder and murder charges, according to prosecutors.
He had “spent nine months in prison for beating his then-wife in front of their children.” The system utterly failed this woman and her children; as it fails many women. This time he murdered her when he was returning the children to her.
There are so many things to say about the Judge Lance Mason case…such as the friend of the couple who says of the abuser/murderer, “He really loved those girls though.” No, no, no! Any man who loves his children will love or, at the very least, respect their mother. Abuse and murder bear no resemblance to love for anyone other than himself.
Chris Watts, a Colorado father accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two children in August pleaded guilty to nine related felony crimes Tuesday during a court appearance in Weld County. I previously wrote about Shanann Watts and this case here, here, and here.
Larry Nassar was a pedophilic offender the outside world refused to believe was an abuser. Despite numerous young girls telling countless adults, over two decades, in detail, how Larry Nassar was abusing them, the girls were not believed. Why? Because people at work and in the community thought Larry was such a nice guy…a terrific guy…a helpful neighbor, and that the girls were lucky to have him. “Nassar’s cumulative criminal acts of sexual assault were the basis of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, in which he was accused of molesting at least 250 girls and young women and 1 young man including a number of well-known Olympic gymnasts, dating as far back as 1992.”
November 20, 2018, Thomas Bruce, 53, entered a St. Louis, Missouri, Catholic Supply store where he ordered female customers to remove their clothing. He committed sexual assault and murdered a woman. He was charged with first-degree murder, eight counts of armed criminal action, three counts of first-degree sodomy or attempted sodomy, three counts of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary and tampering with physical evidence in felony prosecution. No prior arrest record. According to a church official at a St. Louis-area Calvary Chapel, Bruce was the minister of a Calvary Chapel in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, about a decade ago.
For the above men who were found guilty, I’m sure that friends and extended family members had a difficult time believing in their guilt.
“We would rather believe a reassuring lie than an utterly inconvenient and disturbing truth.” Diane Langberg, PhD
Women disappearing or being murdered by an intimate partner happens multiple times a day around the globe. Other times, men who commit crimes outside of the home are domestic abusers in their home.
I’m not saying with certainty that all the above mentioned men are guilty of wrong doing in the disappearance or death of these women; although I know family members of the missing or deceased women have strong opinions on the subject. The point I’m making is that people outside the family often know the nice side of a person and refuse to understand how a seemingly nice guy could be responsible for such dark acts of violence.
Of all the people I’ve talked with over the years a common thread runs through stories of abuse. The parents of the abuser usually refuse to believe the truth. And if they know the truth, many take it to the grave with them. It’s rare to find a parent of an adult child/abuser who admits to the faults or failures of their child.
The outsiders looking in want to know how a person could be so vile. Were all his good acts just a pretense? Was his ministry a farce? What about all the times he was kind, the times he was hysterically funny, the times he helped us, and the times he prayed for us? What about all the souls he led to the Lord? He seemed so professional. How can he be evil? So, they don’t believe there is a dark side to the alleged abuser or murderer.
To the family the abuser can be angry, controlling, rigid, isolating, with holding, and verbally, emotionally, sexually, reproductively, financially, and/or spiritually abusive.
Do not think, “Well, at least he didn’t hit her.” Yes, he did. He just didn’t use his fists. Diane Langberg, PhD
Please understand that abusers can be all these bad things and more to their loved one or their victim, while being kind and thoughtful to others. They can be both. Some people admire him while others are repulsed by him. Decency and depravity can exist in the same person. Conceding to one does not mean rejecting the other. It doesn’t mean everything we always thought about them was a lie. It means we weren’t with them every minute of their life. We never know what goes on in someone else’s home. We never know if an individual lives a double life.
Like Jesus, we need to come from a place of love; not a place of inconvenience or disbelief when considering accusations of abuse.
Remember: Abusers are word spinners who tell half-truths and justify their behavior. When the woman is divulging the abuse and the man explains, justifies, minimizes, spiritualizes, and denies the severity of what she is describing; you are looking at the number one sign of dealing with an abuser; denial. They are wolves in sheep’s’ clothing. They do not change for the better, but rather adjust their game so as to not get caught by outsiders; especially not caught by Christians or church members.
I learned from my experience and from women I minister to that men with personality disorders tend to gain energy supply from upping their game. It’s as if they are daring someone to catch them at the abuse; whatever from it may be. Many of these men tend to think they are more intelligent than those around them and they enjoy boldly doing something outrageous in front of others because they know no one will ever believe they are actually committing an act so mean or dark. Healthy people tend to think, “surely he didn’t just do or say that.” Believe your eyes and trust your instincts. Heed the intuition in your spirit.
When you sit with a griever, your work is to be with him where he is, not drag him out where you are more comfortable. Diane Langberg, PhD
“How to handle a marginalized person’s or abuse victim’s anger:
1. Sit quietly 2. Listen carefully 3. When they are done, say “You didn’t deserve that and I’m sorry.” 4. If they start talking again, refer to step 1.” Mandy Nicole, First of Her Name
All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.